Parody pokes fun at pop culture
Posted May 12, 2006

Every once in a while a producer feels there are enough things wrong in the world to make a movie. This season Paul Weitz, writer, director and producer of “American Dreamz,” took on the not-so-difficult task of making fun of the United States by offering a offbeat but insightful look at our president, the war and pop culture.

Weitz successfully delivered a heavy dose of criticism without losing the comedy that kept the audience entertained.

“American Dreamz” centers on a parody of “American Idol,” in which Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant) hosts the show and provides rude, mean and insensitive comments to the contestants.

Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore), is a talented small town girl who is willing to do anything in order to win the contest.

We also meet Joe Staton (Dennis Quaid), a depressed, easily manipulated president of the United States who is not allowed to read and instead spends his mornings watching television in his robe.

Meanwhile an Arabian boy named Omer (Sam Golzari) is sent to the United States from a terrorist training camp and accidentally ends up as a contestant in the show.

The parallels between the characters we meet and characters we are all familiar with is obvious, which adds to the humor of the film.

The contestants on “American Dreamz” even show a resemblance to those of the current “American Idol” season, such as Paris Bennett and Bucky Covington.

The movie is mainly characterized by its clever dialogue that offered a bit of black humor and had the audience laughing at some very serious issues.

At one point, for example, President Staton talks about the inability of other countries to be like the United states where, according to him, whites, blacks and Latinos get along perfectly fine.

Of course you can’t forget the additional quirky characters.

Iqbal Riza (Tony Yalda), who spends his time singing in the basement, had a goal to be on “American Dreamz.” He settles for coaching his cousin Omar after he “steals his dream.”

The film is different from some of Weitz’s previous works, but did include the same type of clever and dramatic dialogue and a commentary on society that he used for previous films such as “About a Boy.”

The humor, however, is completely different from the raw sexual humor that made his “American Pie” series famous. In fact there were hardly any sexual allusions in the film. Instead the humor was based on the clever remarks which helped bring into focus the main issues of the film.

The acting complemented the film well with Quaid’s personification of a president who was perfectly lovable despite his inability to run the country, and Moore stepping out of her “America’s sweetheart” role to play someone you could actually hate.

By using “American Idol” Weitz satirized our addiction to reality television, implying that even Al-Qaeda is addicted to it.

But most importantly, it expressed some of the things that concern the United States today.

The film has several familiar plot lines reminiscent of the American Dream: The girl who dreams of being a star, the young soldier who comes home a war veteran and the president who has been successfully reelected.

The film served as a critical yet refreshing satire of what currently drives the American Dream.

Laura Bucio can be reached at

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